Holding My Breath

After a perfectly wonderful and truly life changing stay in Havelock the time has come to move on. This quaint little town and her people will forever be in my heart. I will always remember it as the place where my prince asked me to be his princess forever. I know my daddy is looking down from heaven and smiling as big of a smile as I am this morning.

Of course the smiles this morning are tempered by the fact that we have to leave Havelock and travel through the channel where just six days ago we ran aground. Dan has been studying the tides and preparing for this exit for days now. It can be confusing as depending upon what source you look at the quoted time for high tide can be vastly different, just as we experienced in our trek through French Pass a couple of weeks ago.

When we moved to this new slip a few days ago we backed into the slip and this morning I’m thrilled we did so. There’s not much room to maneuver here and Dazzler doesn’t like to back up like some boats. In fact, she’s a fat pig that has to be coaxed to back up to wherever it is you want her to go. Since I’m the one at the helm when we go out I’m exceedingly happy that there will be no backing up.

The time has come and we both put on our game faces. I get our trusty headsets and fire up the engine while Dan calls Lutz & Gabi to tell them were casting off. They will be leaving shortly after us. Who knows? We could need them again but we are hoping not.

Holding My Breath

The tide appears a bit higher this morning than it did when we arrived. This gives us a little breathing room. After we get out of the slip I take to the bow to do what I do….watch for hazards. There’s not much being spoken between us except a few I love yous and every so often Dan calls out the depth. The shallower it gets the harder it is for me to breathe.

Our first big obstacle is near the breakwater at the marina entrance. When we came in we had just a foot under the keel. Today we have close to two meters. Phew! That’s a relief. We’re both starting to get a really good feeling about this exit.

Dan stays as close to the channel markers as he can. We’re not taking any chances. Soon it’s time to round the point, Cullen Point, the scene of the crime so to speak. Ironically just before we make the turn there is a sign….the same sign that sits on the opposite end of the channel. It reads EXACTLY the same telling mariners to keep to the starboard side of the channel. Is it just me or does this make absolutely no sense? Honestly, I’m on the bow wondering how they cannot understand that one of these signs is clearly wrong!!!

Well, at least we know THIS sign is correct and we hug the shore. This in itself is a bit unnerving as we never get Dazzler this close to shore. At some points we are less than 10 meters from the stone faced point.

We round the corner and all is well. We pass by “the spot” and Dan points it out to me as if I wouldn’t have recognized the place where my heart stopped just a few days earlier. Another fifteen minutes or so and we are past the danger zone. We both breathe a heavy sign of relief and the smiles come back to our faces.

Must Do Bay!

Today we are headed to Chance Bay or as we affectionately call it “Must Do Bay” because Lutz & Gabi had run into some Kiwis who told them this bay is one that we just had to see no matter what. It’s in the Nydia Bay Channel and we passed by it a week ago as we went from Nydia Bay to Havelock. The trip is not a long one today….just two and a half to three hours.

Dan & I arrived at the anchorage well ahead of Lutz & Gabi. As we enter the bay and get behind the spit on the northern end it becomes flat as glass. The mountains surrounding it are reflecting perfectly in the bright green water. There’s one red, fancy tug looking boat anchored inside the bay. It’s really cute. Looks like a boat you’d see on the canals in Europe with its flashy, red paint job and wheelhouse that is glass on all sides.

We pick a spot in the northern corner a good distance from them and we drop the hook. Just as expected it sinks in quickly and we get a perfect set on the anchor. The sun is out and it’s warm, unless you are in the shade then you can definitely tell that autumn is in the air. We sit in the cockpit enjoying our anchor down beers and then set to work dropping Sparkle into the water. It’s our turn to be the ferry service. 

When we travel with our friends we often take turns putting dinghies in the water. There’s really no need to have both in the water at the same time since we are always going to the same places together. 

Before long we see SuAn enter the bay and make her way over closer to the shore to anchor. We call them on the radio and ask if they’d like to take a ride to shore with us. Gabi tells us Lutz is much too tired from the mountain hike yesterday and they will pass. She invites us to stop by for a beer after our walk to discuss our next destination.

SuAn has arrived at Chance Bay a/k/a Must Do Bay

Dan and I head to shore for about forty-five minutes. We can’t stay much longer as the tide is dropping rapidly and he keeps having to push Sparkle out. If he doesn’t she’ll end up sitting high and dry on the oysters. That’s not a place you want your inflatable to be sitting.

In this corner of the anchorage a fresh water river runs from the mountain into the bay. I walked up a ways to take some photographs. It is very pretty but rocky and full of more oysters. It’s not long before Dan calls from the dinghy and requests that I make my way back to shore. On the dingy and headed out towards the boats we see a very large stingray gliding through the water. We haven’t seen much of that sort of thing in the sounds so it was a welcome sight.

We stop over at SuAn, tie up to their stern and are welcomed into the cockpit for a beer. Before we know it the subject of where we should head next has arisen. Gabi goes below to get out their chart of the sounds. We are all eager to head to Queen Charlotte Sound and the Picton area. To get there from Pelorus Sound, however, you must go out into Cook Strait.

What’s the problem with that you ask? Well, Cook Strait can get exceedingly rough and give you a very wild ride if you don’t hit it during the right weather window. We’ve actually flown over the strait when they were experiencing 100 knot winds!!! Just a month or so ago they had winds gusting to 75 knot winds. The car ferries that travel between Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island couldn’t dock. They literally had to circle around in the sounds for close to 13 hours!

And, it’s a fairly regular occurrence for them to have 40-50 knot winds. This means this large body of water separating New Zealand’s north and south islands can become not just windy but have some very high seas as well. Planning your passage in the strait is critical.

Lutz & Dan are our weather gurus and have decided that if we don’t leave to make this passage by tomorrow we will be stuck where we are for another week. Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely gorgeous here but we’ve seen what we came to see and are ready to move on.

Soon after deciding that we should leave tomorrow Lutz brings up the idea that we move yet another 19 NM north yet today. This would put us at the entrance to Pelorus Sound and give us just 35 NM or so to get across the bay and deep into Queen Charlotte Sound.

Neither one of us was really up for hauling anchor and moving this late in the afternoon but Lutz did have a good point. The winds pick up here in the sounds every afternoon. If we left our current location at 0600 we would be in the strait as winds were beginning to whip up for the day.

Leaving from the entrance gives us a three hour advantage. So, we rush back to Dazzler, tie Sparkle off to our stern, fire up the engine and within fifteen minutes we were underway. Of course we were leaving at 1600 hours for a three hour trip. One of the issues with getting underway so late is we would need to be anchoring or finding a mooring as the evening light was giving way to darkness.

And, there was always a chance that other boats would be on the moorings in the bay where we were headed. These bays close to the mouth of the inlet are very deep making anchoring near impossible. But, we’re risk takers by nature so why not try it?

Late Afternoon Movements

We wasted no time keeping the Yanmar revving high to push us through the water at a little over 6 knots. We pass by a seal floundering in the water in front of a fish farm as the sun is setting behind the mountain.

We’re literally racing daylight. As we arrive in the bay here there are supposed to be mooring buoys in three different areas. Two are taken but we haven’t been able to locate the third one. All we need is one MCC buoy and we can raft together if necessary. When we can’t locate the third buoy we stop in front of the Bulwer Pa (settlement) and try to drop anchor in 18 meters of water. The guide says there is good holding. HA!

Our anchor continues to skip across the bottom and we can’t seem to get it set. I call Gabi on the radio as they have stopped in the small bay called Camp Bay, just behind the fish farm. They say there are three moorings there and they’ve taken one. Dan pulls up the anchor and we beat feet for Camp Bay. We get the mooring secured just as the sun is setting.

Both of us are exhausted and yet we still need to eat. Dan fires up the grill and cooks up some shrimp as I make salads down below. We chat with SuAn on the radio and agree to leave at 0600. It’s not my favorite time as it will still be dark but Dan assures me all will be fine.

We tied to the mooring just in time for me to snap a photo or two of this fabulous sunset.

It’s been a long and enjoyable day on Dazzler. We’ve seen so much of Pelorus Sound in the past two weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing Queen Charlotte Sound and all that majesty she has to offer.

Until next time,


Read more about our time here in Pelorus Sound. Click Here!

Author: Dan & Jilly

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